The Estates

The States or the Estates (French: États, German: Landstände, Dutch: Staten) was the assembly of the representatives of the estates of the realm, the divisions of society in feudal times, called together for purposes of deliberation, legislation or taxation. In German-speaking countries they were also known by the name Landtag (see also Diet).

In many states, the first estate comprised the clergymen, the second estate the nobility, and the third estate the commoners (bourgeoisie, artisans and peasants). The actual representation of these three estates in the assembly could vary from country to country. Bourgeoisie, peasants and people with no estate from birth were separated in Sweden and Finland as late as in 1905.


States General

In some countries, there were estates assemblies both on a provincial and national level, the latter often being known as the 'States General' or national Diet. Some examples of this:

In some countries, the parliament kept the same name when its feudal organization was replaced with a more modern kind of representation, like census or universal suffrage. An example of this was the Reichstag of the German Weimar Republic (1919-1933), now succeeded by the Bundestag. In Sweden, the Riksdag of the Estates was replaced with the Riksdag in 1866.

Some examples where a present-day parliament or government still has the historical name:

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